In one of our tests here at the school where I work we had the following question:

Which adjective can be used to describe a person?

The correct answer was wacky, but among the incorrect ones, there was the adjective squeaky. Based on the dictionary definition I concluded that the latter would also be possible. When I sent an e-mail to our headquarter, they answered that squeaky would not be right because we would have to understand the adjective figuratively if we were to accept it. I confess I didn't understand their explanation.

Can we say "he is squeaky" or would we have to say "he has a squeaky voice"?

I was thinking of a meaning close to what the person sounds like.

It's worth mentioning that one member of the Manson family was Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme. ( from Wikipedia: George Spahn gave her the nickname "Squeaky", because of the sound she made when he touched her.)

I also thought about a possible connection with the adjective and the saying "The squeaky wheel gets the grease."

In the case of Lynette, couldn't squeaky mean someone who speaks in squeaky sounds? And, in the second case, could it mean someone who complains a lot?


Saying that an adjective could never apply to a particular noun seems misleading since the term can be used creatively to imply something about it. In this case I could say something like:

He was a squeaky sort of administrator, the kind who always locked himself in his office whenever there was any kind of conflict.

Here the term "squeaky" implies "like a mouse", i.e. "timid and furtive, in a manner that belied his authority".

More commonly we could describe someone as having a "squeaky voice". Or "squeaky-clean" to either literally mean very clean or having a strong set of moral values. Or a "squeaky wheel" meaning someone who is always complaining or asking for special help.

  • 1
    You could add that their reasoning on why squeaky is incorrect but wacky is not is flawed. Wacky, although now widespread, is understood figuratively since the people we describe as one never gotten literally hit in the head one too many times.
    – Korvin
    May 16 '17 at 5:38

I don't think a person can be "squeaky". In the case of "someone who complains a lot" this could refer to a "squeaky wheel":

George tends to be the squeaky wheel when we get together.

The idea is that a squeaky wheel just making noise on and on and never stops.

Also, there is the type of high-pitched voice typical of anime characters in Japan, referred to IIRC as "anime voice" (アニメ声).

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